This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Friday, September 29, 2006

We are the frog.

We now live in a country where indefinite detention and torture are legal. I can't process this! I can't think about it; I can't believe it's happening. When did this water start to boil?

Monday, September 25, 2006


I wrote a song for the KVR monthly song contest, and here it is: Undisclosed Location

The topic was to write a song about/inspired by/in the style of your home. I wrote about Fortress Washington.

I don't like my singing, but I'm pretty pleased with the arrangement and the lyrics, which can be found here.

Comments and crits are welcome.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The future, NOW.

Remember everyone's vision of the future, with the cleaning robots that would pick up a speck of dust the second it was dropped and leave your house sparkling clean with no effort at all? Remember how it was supposed to arrive by 1967?

So we were a few years off! But the future is now at our house, thanks to iRobot's Roomba Discovery vacuum, which beeped its way into our hearts yesterday after a three-hour charge. I fully expect flying cars to debut sometime in 2007.

After watching it toddle around the living room this morning, I can understand why people name them, MIDIfy them, and use them to play Frogger. K was already talking about painting eyes on it, and I must admit I have a healthy respect for a company that publishes an SDK for a vacuum cleaner.

But, of course, the number one question: does it work? I'll let Secretary Rumfseld answer that:
Can you get rid of your old vacuum entirely? Heavens, no. Is it smart enough to avoid stray threads on old throw rugs? Gracious, never. Is it nonetheless easier than our semi-broken and noisy Dirt Devil? My goodness, yes.

The sad truth.

YouTube sucks. No, not the content, not at all. And maybe it doesn't suck so hard on better computers than the one on which I currently write. But the fact is, on my machines, the rate of dropped frames is worse than a bad print of a Buster Keaton film. It's like watching someone do the robot--badly.

On the other hand, if it weren't for YouTube, I never would have found out what the hell Filliam H. Muffman meant. So there you go.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Oh, by the way.

I would be remiss if I didn't plug this book, written by the aforementioned Professor Josh. Now, that's something of which I can be envious.


Yesterday I drove down to Chestertown, MD and Washington College to see my ole friend (or is that olé friend? oleo friend?) Mike perform his monologue Monopoly!, about Microsoft, Parker Brothers, and Nicola Tesla, inventor of the DEATH RAY (true!). I knew the monologue would be brilliant--almost anything Mike does is brilliant--but it was nice to experience it First Hand, nonetheless.

Mike does a kind of storytelling that weaves his own life in with Larger Concepts. His break-out work, 21 Dog Years, was mostly his own life; Monolpoly was mostly Larger Concepts. This is a good thing. Frankly, I suspect that as he's gotten more successful, his life has gotten less interesting and less suited to storytelling, or at least the kind of storytelling he's done. The danger is that, eventually, he may create the kind of inside-baseball show about "touring the country doing monologues" that I find insufferable, kind of like when film school students make movies about film school students, or animators make movies about animators. So far, he seems to have avoided that, although one section of Monopoly, where he tells the story of the show's opening (yes, he talks about the show you're watching during the actual show!), comes dangerously close, and is easily the least compelling part of the evening. He can get away with it because he's so darn entertaining, but nevertheless... Then again, maybe I just found it less interesting because I've done theater before and know the ins and outs and... well, it's just like any other job, really.

After the show, Mike, his wife and director Jean-Michele, Josh, the professor who had invited him to perform, and I went out to a local restaurant/bar to eat and chat. I suspect we all (even Josh, who knew Mike and JM from New York) just wanted a quiet evening of Catching Up; I know I did. However, it was not in the cards, as many of the folks who were at the show were also having a drink or two, and wound up mobbing Mike (in a pleasant way). A couple times, JM looked at me meaningfully, as if to say "See what it's like being a Pluto to this Sun?" (In fairness, she didn't actually say this and I don't know if she'd even describe it that way as a joke. JM, after all, is Mike's collaborator, director, and great love. They're more like Pluto and Charon, continually orbiting each other, one slightly better-known but both essential.) Anyway, for this reason JM and I talked a lot more than Mike and I, which was fine, except that I was inarticulate and befuddled as I often am when confronted with a beautiful woman I don't know very well. (The only reason I can talk to K is that we've been married for twelve years. Otherwise, I'd be all "Who is this tall gorgeous Swede and why is she laughing at my jokes?!")

Eventually, I left and I drove home, arriving at about midnight. I may have been hallucinating from exhaustion on the way home, unless I really did run over a deer with Father Guido Sarducci's face.

One more thing. Longtime readers may remember that as this blog started, I would occasionally get debilitating fits of envy about Mike's success--horrible, embarassing, and selfish acts which nonetheless I just couldn't help. I fully expected another one to happen after the show yesterday, but it didn't. Why? There could be many reasons--maybe because Mike doesn't blog about his actual life anymore; maybe I've finally come to terms with my own strengths and weaknesses as an artist; maybe I'm actually growing up--horrors! But the possibility I find most interesting--and one I may develop a film around--is that now that I've had some modest success of my own, I've realized that people might be envious of me, just as I was once envious of Mike. It's strangely reassuring--and yet just as selfish as it was before, innit?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My new favorite Beatles story... here, and I can now add a new blog to my blogroll, courtesy of my old friend Bill.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The forgotten terrorist.

A while ago I lamented that no one seemed to remember Oklahoma City anymore. Well, as David Niewert points out, the OK bomb is practically a national holiday compared to what happened a year ago today.

Maybe the perp is hanging with Osama somewhere.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

D.C. Shorts post-mortem.

There was no red carpet this year, but almost everything else was bigger and better.

First of all the party was after the first screening instead of before; this was good and bad. Cell-Phone showed in the first screening, so I had a definite conversation-starter with any of the partygoers. However, my favorite part, the Q & A, was quite short because people wanted to Get the Party Started. There was only time for one audience question! After last year's reception, that was quite a let-down.

But to back up. The screening was on Thursday, so the audience wasn't quite primed. My short was the first comedy of the night, so the laughter and so on wasn't as forceful as it would become later in the evening. That's what I'm hoping is the reason anyway. It certainly was well-received, though; that's not just me blowing smoke up my arse. Many people told me how funny it was and so forth.

For me, there were two standouts of the evening: Full Disclosure, about a man who goes on first dates and tells the girl everything wrong about himself, so she's saved the learning process over the course of the relationship; and Bone Mixers, a lovely documentary about a homegrown dominoes club in Silver Spring, which went on to win Best Local Film. (Full Disclosure won Audience Favorite for Thursday's screening. I like to imagine Cell-Phone came in second, based on what the City Paper said.)

(Boy, looking at those film web sites, I realize I really gotta get me a designer...)

A lot of cast members from Hamlet, Revenge! came to see the shorts, which was a wonderful treat. I thank them from the top and bottom of my heart.

I also attended the 7 and 10 P.M. screenings on Friday and the 7 and half the 10 P.M. screenings on Saturday. There was a great documentary on D.C.'s lack of voting representation, followed by a commercial for Jesus Beer, and a really funny short called Zombie-American, starring none other than Ed Helms of The Daily Show. I was way too tired to stay for the entire late Saturday screening, though. I chatted for a good long time with a couple from Vancouver, Canada, whose film was shown at the Canadian Embassy as part of the Canada Films blocks. They felt a little cheated that their film didn't show on the Big Screen at the E Street Cinema, but they were certainly happy to be there. We exchanged screener DVDs at the post-show brunch (where they announced the awards).

No, Cell-Phone didn't win anything. But I already wrote enough about that last year. Besides, being selected from a field of 500+ submissions is still a pretty big deal.

Oh! And today is K's and my wedding anniversary. Twelve years! Amazing. And we still love each other, even!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A soldier writes to Andrew Sullivan:
I can't get past that image of the Iraqi, in the hood with the wires and I'm not what you'd call a sensitive type. You know the picture. And now we have a total bust-out in the White House, and a bunch of rubber-stamps in the House, trying to make it so that half-drowning people isn't torture. That hypothermia isn't torture. That degradation isn't torture. We don't have that reputation for fairness anymore. Just the opposite, I think. And the next real enemy we face will fight like only the cornered and desperate fight. How many Marines' lives will be lost in the war ahead just because of this asshole who never once risked anything for this country?
There's more, about the difference in our reputation between 1991 and now. Read the whole thing.

A quandry.

So, do I install iPod Linux on my 5G iPod, so I can play Pac-Man illegally for free, or do I buy it from the iTMS, so I can play it legally for $4.99?

Your thoughts are welcome.

A status report from D.C. Shorts is forthcoming--in the meantime, you can read this one from the City Paper.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's long and shaggy.

Teacher won't shave until bin Laden caught.

Nelson's Column.

Enjoy this Q & A for the Washington City paper's City Desk blog, all about tonight's premiere of The Cell-Phone.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why not check it out?

I have a litle bit of stuff going on at my Audience page for my films at Withoutabox. Mostly about tomorrow's premiere of The Cell-Phone. Why not come by and check it out?

I've also updated my web site for a slicker, simpler splash page.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Stupid questions department.

The Explainer asks:
One-hundred-sixteen-year-old Maria Esther de Capovilla died on Sunday, less than a year after Guinness World Records had verified her birthday—Sept. 14, 1889—and named her the world's oldest living person. How'd they know how old she was?
Well, duh. They sliced her open and counted the rings. Don't you know anything?

(What amazes me is that she lasted almost a year afterward.)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Let the Eagle Soar!

Godfrey tracked down the award announcement page for the IPIFF, so now you can see the Sandpoint Realty Best Animated Film in all its glory.

I'm not sure whether I get one of those funky eagles or not.

Oh, and in the "everybody gets a prize!" department, <ESC> won Best Animated "Escape" (scroll down to the bottom). Feels like a kid's birthday party...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Han shot first.

They're finally releasing the ORIGINAL Star Wars trilogy on DVD. But not, alas, Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. As Agent Kay said, "I'll have to buy the White Album again..."

Friday, September 01, 2006

In case you're wondering... computer's battery is not in danger of exploding.